Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/277

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One boy meeting another would address him with these queries, the other giving the replies :

“ ‘Doctor, Doctor, how’s your wife?’
  ‘Very bad upon my life.’
  ‘Can she eat a bit of pie?’
  ‘Yes, she can as well as I.’ ”[1]

Having gathered a tuft of the shepherd’s purse (thlaspi bursa pastoris), so abundant by waysides, a boy would invite his unsuspecting fellow to pull off one of the triangular capsules. Then he would immediately cry:

“Pick-pocket, penny nail,
 Throw the rogue into gaol,”

suiting the action to the word by catching him hold and dragging him off.

There were certain tricks or catches that could be practised on the same person only once. Of this kind were two insidious verses always held in reserve for a fresh boy. One of the initiated would attack the newcomer with an invitation to play at a petty game, saying:

“Now I’ll begin: I one my mother.”

The other is to reply :

“I two my mother,”

And they run the cardinals in alternation till the unsuspecting urchin comes to:

“I eight my mother.”

Immediately the artful tempter shouts:

“Here’s a wicked footer! He says he hates his mother!”

Or the device would be varied thus. The dialogue would run down the alphabet, beginning:

“I’ll go to A,”
“I’ll go to B,”

till the stranger in due course comes to

“I’ll go to L,”

  1. Conf. variant of this given amongst “counting out” rhymes, post, p. 259.